What is a bit?
One bit (short for “binary digit”) is the smallest unit of measure used to quantify computer data. It contains a single binary value of 0 or 1.
While single bits can define a Boolean value of True (1) or False (0), single bits have little other use. Therefore, bits in computer memory are often grouped into 8-bit clusters, called bytes.
Differences between bits and bytes
Since a byte contains eight bits, each having two possible values, a single byte may have 28 or 256 different values. The terms “bits” and “bytes” are often confused and even used interchangeably, as they sound similar and are both abbreviated to the letter “B”.
However, if written correctly, bits are abbreviated to a lowercase letter “b”, while bytes are abbreviated to a capital letter “B”.
It is important not to confuse these two terms, as each measurement in bytes contains eight times as many bits. For example, a small text file with a size of 4KB contains 4,000 bytes or 32,000 bits.
In general, files, storage devices and storage capacity are measured in bytes, while data transfer rates are measured in bits. For example, an SSD may have a storage capacity of 240GB, while a download may be transmitted at 10 Mbps.
In addition, bits are also used to describe the processor architecture, such as a 32-bit or a 64-bit processor.